Having a home-field advantage, including past experience on a track, can be a valuable advantage to a racer – something we saw in the last round of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, where Sebastian Landy, driver of the No. 49 entry for Alex Job Racing and Forto Strong Coffee, scored his first win at VIRginia International Raceway, and followed it up the next day with his second victory, sweeping the weekend.
Landy, of Great Falls, Virginia, benefited from his experience at VIR, and his team, led by the legendary Porsche team owner Alex Job, knows how to win, and Job’s team has done that in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s biggest stages, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Landy has been knocking on the door all season, but it all came together at VIR.
So, who will benefit from past experience in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA’s penultimate round this weekend at Sonoma Raceway in California?
While some of the drivers have competed at Sonoma Raceway in other series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA is making its first-ever stop there Friday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 17, as a companion race to the Verizon IndyCar Series GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The tricky 2.385-mile road course will test the Porsche drivers in a pair of 45-minute sprint races during the event weekend.
With only one round left after Sonoma, the season-ender at Road Atlanta, drivers know these next two races will help decide the 2017 championship.
Jake Eidson, the Littleton, Colorado, driver of the No. 24 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry, remains on top of the standings in the Platinum class, winning five races this year. But he’s winless in the last four races, so the first recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, named for and presented by one of the best sports car endurance drivers in history, assisting Eidson with funding for a full season, will arrive in Sonoma eager to stand on the top step of the podium again.
Arguably Eidson and his very successful Kelly-Moss team were the first to figure out the new-for-2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, but other drivers and teams are catching up. Besides Landy, Trenton Estep, the San Antonio, Texas, driver of the No. 3 JDX Racing/Hertz Porsche, has won this season, and very nearly won again at VIR, and he remains third in points, just behind Cory Fergus, the Columbus, Ohio, driver who races the No. 00 Moorespeed/US LED/Byers Imports entry. Fergus has three wins to his credit this season.
At least one driver may have a special cheering section, since he hails from California: Mark Nelson, driver of the No. 32 Kelley-Moss Road and Race/Competition Motorsports entry, is from Tiburon. Nelson races in the Gold class, which features Porsche GT3 Cup cars from 2014 to 2016.
Only six points separate the top two drivers in the Gold class: Fred Kaimer, the Austin, Texas, driver of the No. 23 NGT Motorsport/Race Deck car, leads teenager Roman De Angelis of Belle River, Ontario, driver of the No. 78 Mark Motors Racing entry. The busy De Angelis was recently awarded the Gold championship in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama series just over a week ago.
Victor Gomez IV, the San Juan, Puerto Rico, pilot of the No. 25 NGT Motorsport/Mapfre/Porsche Center of Puerto Rico car, is third in points, and he and De Angelis each won at VIR.
There is also a Masters championship within the Platinum class, for drivers 45 and older. Presently in charge of the Masters points is David Baker, the Colleyville, Texas, driver of the No. 56 TOPP Racing/Apex Capital car. But he only has a 16-point lead over Mark Kvamme, the Columbus, Ohio, driver of the No. 23 JDX Racing entry.
Regardless of who goes home happy, Porsche history will be made as Sonoma Raceway crowns the first-time winners in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA By Yokohama. This much we know for sure: Whoever takes home a trophy will have earned it.
Schedule (all times Pacific time zone):
Practice: 8:15-8:55 a.m. and 12:30-1:10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15
Qualifying: 8:40-9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 16
Race 1 (45 minutes): 1-1:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16
Race 2 (45 minutes): 12:25-1:10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17
Source. LST Marketing